August 12, 2022

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Cash is nice in a crisis, but Netflix is stockpiling content

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FILE PHOTO: Netlix logo is seen in front of diplayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
FILE PHOTO: Netlix logo is seen in front of diplayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19)


Hi everyone, welcome back to Trending, Business Insider Prime’s weekly newsletter of the latest tech industry developments.

I’m Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider’s West Coast bureau chief and global tech editor. This week kicked off with a very special day. Not only was Monday the celebrated 4/20, it also marked my five-year anniversary at Business Insider. It’s been an incredible honor covering the exciting world of tech for BI’s smart and loyal readers. 

What stories would you like to see us write more about? What companies or technologies are you excited about? Drop me a line at [email protected] 

This week: Netflix’s downturn plan — cash, credit, and content.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Ore Huiying/Getty Images for Netflix

We got our first peek at how Big Tech is holding up against the coronavirus fallout on Tuesday, and it confirmed what the parent of any quarantined teen could have told you: People are spending a lot of time on Netflix and Snapchat. 

The two internet companies reported booming user growth numbers for the first quarter. Netflix added nearly 16 million new paying subscribers, while Snapchat’s audience increased by 20% to 229 million daily users

The real surprise was how well Snapchat’s advertising business performed. A feared ad revenue meltdown, caused by big brands and small businesses frantically slashing their marketing expenses, has not yet happened.

That’s good news for all the other ad-dependent internet companies out there, like Twitter, Facebook, and Google. And indeed, all of those stocks got a nice sympathy bump after Snap’s earnings crossed the wire. But there’s reason to be cautious. Snap noted that its 44% revenue growth rate in Q1, decelerated to a 15% clip during the first 19 days of April. And it slowed to 11% in the most recent week. 

Yes, Snap’s revenue is still growing, but the trendline is rapidly losing altitude. Perhaps that’s why Snap stressed that in addition to the $2.1 billion in cash on its balance sheet, it has access to a $1 billion credit facility — a reassurance that, by its very necessity, might seem concerning.

Netflix, which has $5 billion in cash on its balance sheet, also felt compelled to mention on its conference call that it has an undrawn $750 million unsecured credit facility. 

Netflix also touted another notable rainy day fund, of sorts.

With film production halted throughout the industry because of the virus, streaming video services like Netflix, Apple, and Disney+ will face challenges satisfying their viewers’ appetite for new content. 

Not to worry, says Netflix. Thanks to a library of thousands of titles it has amassed, the company has an advantage over streaming video rivals confronting the “shortage of new content.”

As far as shortages go, this one is a decidedly first-world problem. But it’s also a fitting expression of our quarantined times. Netflix has stockpiled something more valuable than cash or credit. It’s got content. 

Even a toothbrush needs a halo effect

Screen Shot 2020 04 17 at 10.39.07 AM
Screen Shot 2020 04 17 at 10.39.07 AM

Hollis Johnson

An electric toothbrush may seem like a humble building block for an empire. But for Simon Enever, the 32-year-old founder of Quip, the toothbrush is the bridge over which an army of products, from floss to tongue scrapers, will conquer the broader oral care market.

As Melia Russell reports, Quip’s dental masterplan has suffered a few setbacks, many of which occured just before the coronavirus struck. Now the startup has refocused, laid off some staff, and put some initiatives on hold. And Enever says the company is better positioned to get through the coronavirus storm. 

As a standard-bearer for the new breed of direct-to-consumer brands, Quip is sure to be closely watched in the months ahead.

Read Melia’s full story here:

Former employees of Quip, a $170 million electric toothbrush startup that cut 10% of staffers weeks before the coronavirus hit, say a range of issues could frustrate its ability to ride out the pandemic

Tech workers are sweating…

With 22 million Americans filing unemployment claims in the past month, anxiety about layoffs is running high.

The anonymous social network Blind surveyed nearly 7,000 tech workers for BI in March and in April asking: “Are you concerned your job security will be negatively affected by the economic trends stemming from the Coronavirus?” 

Those who answered “yes” are depicted in blue in the chart below. The results show a wide disparity in opinion among  workers at tech companies. 

At Expedia, a staggering 95% of workers surveyed expressed concern. (The company, which is closely tied to the devastated travel industry, had already laid off 12% of staff in February.) Worries at Lyft shot up over the past month, while Facebook workers appear to be keeping relatively calm. 

Check out the full survey results, which you can read here, from workers at Apple, Salesforce, and numerous other big tech companies.

Screen Shot 2020 04 21 at 6.00.16 PM
Screen Shot 2020 04 21 at 6.00.16 PM

Ruobing Su/Business Insider

Sound bite of the week:

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang

Andrew Harnik/AP

“Our biggest problems generally don’t have market-based solutions and the true solutions often aren’t aligned with profit maximizing activities the way they are currently defined.”

Former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang, responding to Marc Andreessen’s essay prescribing a surge of entrepreneurial projects to solve big problems like climate change and pandemics.

Recommended readings:

Some of Google’s summer international interns are being told their pay will be slashed by almost half – and they have just 24 hours to accept the new offer

Tech CEOs say they plan to scale back on real estate for offices now that they know everyone can work from home, and it’s not good news for WeWork

The governor of New Jersey is asking for urgent help with COBOL, a 61-year-old programming language. Here’s why it’s causing problems with unemployment systems, and why it’s so hard to replace.

These 15 companies could be acquisition targets for Amazon, Microsoft, and Google as the coronavirus crisis ratchets up the cloud wars and crushes tech valuations

Airbnb is facing an unprecedented threat from the coronavirus. Here are the veteran execs on Airbnb’s board of directors who will be critical to CEO Brian Chesky’s success or failure.

Racist Zoombombers attacked my friends — here’s how I tracked the trolls down

Not necessarily in tech:

The price of US crude oil just went negative for the first time. Here’s what that really means and why it’s not free to fill up your car.

That’s a wrap. Thanks for reading, and remember, if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

— Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

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